Changing the view of Alabama

Published 11:37 pm Thursday, December 18, 2008

Perception is a wonderful thing.

Take for instance the nation’s perception of Alabama.

I have several friends that have moved elsewhere, and they have given me the predictable report on people’s reaction to their accent, upbringing, clothing and pretty much everything else you can think of.

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It makes me wonder if the way everyone else views this part of world is ever going to change.

There are some things about this state that make me extremely proud; among them are police escorts for funerals. Most cities anywhere else you go have outgrown that.

I met a woman from Wisconsin years ago that just could not get over the fact that complete strangers wave at each other when they drive down the road.

And now we turn the page … Like most kids who were forced to take an Alabama History class and that listened to people who grew up in the civil rights movement, I know about George Wallace, Rosa Parks and Bloody Sunday.

“Crow” and “Bull” were just as common in daily conversations as “Bear” and “War Eagle.”

One of the most profound moments in my life happened as I watched a televised speech former Gov. George C. Wallace gave. He was in a wheelchair, looked in awful condition and near the end asked the black man behind him to step forward.

He took the man’s hand — his caretaker, if memory serves me correct — and told everyone watching how much he loved him.

It was at that moment I came to know both irony and skepticism.

By then, Wallace had become a born-again Christian and apologized several times for his segregationist stance as a politician.

But I will always remember him as the man who chose to appease the mob when his influence was at its peak. And so will people north of the Mason-Dixon and west of the Mississippi.

But I wonder how many of them realize they eat food or wear clothes that come from the ground people in Alabama rely on for survival.

Car industries here certainly feel the effects of a weak economy and are adjusting, but nowhere near as drastically as those in Michigan and other states.

And if you’re looking for a good view this time of year, you won’t find many better than on the drive down 231 South from Troy to the coast.

So in response to those who criticize our way of life, it may be different, but we’ll find a way to make it work.